Originally posted on Philly Sports Live  |  Last updated 8/19/12

Going into Race #23 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, August 19, with just four races left in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, there was a lot of tension; and, even more question marks. Could 2011 Chase runner-up Carl Edwards use his #2 qualifying position to finally win a race this year? Would Kyle Busch get his second checkered of the season and move to a top-10 a contender for “The Chase” (NASCAR’s 10-week equivalent of the playoffs) out of the “wildcard” position? Could fan-favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. repeat his win at MIS on June 17, his first on that date in 143 races?

At the conclusion of the 201 laps at the two-mile oval, which ended green-white-checkered, the answer to all of those questions was “no.”

In the end, early-season surprising Sprint Cup point leader Greg Biffle was saying “yes!” Yes to the win. Yes to the fact he retook the #1 position on the Sprint Cup point leader board and is a “lock” for The Chase. The fact is Biffle who lead the board early in the season for many, many weeks in a row was probably a “lock” with or without this win.

For that matter, none of the top-10 drivers eligible to make The Chase, didn’t change – only the position of the drivers in the standings. So, why the tension? Well, at this time of year, it comes down to the final two “wildcard” spots to get into NASCAR’s playoffs.

In the past few weeks we’ve watched those spots waiver among Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, and Joey Logano. Currently, Kasey Kahne with two win controls the first wildcard and Ryan Newman with one win holds the second. All of the remaining potential contenders are biting their nails and saying their prayers with just three races remaining.

Throughout this season there has been criticism and complaints about the fact there have not been enough cautions and then restarts. Well, no one should have been complaining today.

NASCAR officials threw the yellow flag eight times including the final one when race leader Jimmie Johnson’s engine blew with just six laps remaining, leading to Biffle’s win.

The second of those caution flags came out at lap 65 in a four-car incident which sent the #1 pole sitter and race lap-leader, 53 year-old Martin Martin spinning off into the entrance of pit road and impaling his #55 into an open wall just behind the driver’s seat. Amazingly Martin, who has had a very good racing year, exited the vehicle unscathed. (Video of the impact can be seen here at this USA Today article.)

The other big story included Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson. Both drivers were thrown to the back of the pack to start the race following issues with their cars during the week at Michigan International Speedway.

Johnson was penalized for swapping an engine in his #48 prior to qualifying on Saturday. Earnhardt joined him as a result of damaging his #88 in a wall during a practice. Earnhardt’s crew was forced to use a back-up car.

Nonetheless, both drivers came from all the way in to the rear to actually lead the race with “Junior” leading and Johnson in the #2 spot with just 50 of the 200 laps remaining.

Top five winners in today’s Pure Michigan 400 included: Greg Biffle; Matt Kenseth; Dale Earnhardt, Jr.; Jimmie Johnson; and, Brad Keselowski.

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